Ease of Use:
Cons: Everything else
This program is advertised as a desktop firewall. This program
doesn't have much in common with standard firewalls. It may
block incoming and outgoing traffic, but the resemblance stops
there. A "normal" firewall will allow/disallow
traffic by port number (such as port 80 for web-browser, port
25 for smtp, etc). But not this firewall. ZoneAlarm keeps a
list of programs that is allowed to use network resources. So,
if you switch web-browser after 6 months, you'll be asked if
it's ok for your new browser to use the network, and if you
say "yes", you're set to go. That's all fine until
you load up a game which doesn't allow ZoneAlarm to display
it's little dialog box....
Configuration is simple enough, but the
choices given are too similar, you're given the options of
"Very paranoid", "Extremely paranoid", and
"Ultra paranoid". Neither setting will disable the
annoying application privilege option. This also applies to
your local network, btw, not only the internet. Any program
that might need to contact another computer on your LAN will
have to be specifically permitted by ZoneAlarm to do this.
As a firewall, this product is barely useful.
True, it will protect your computer from attacks by anyone,
including yourself. The inability of the program to ignore
local traffic and concentrate on Internet based traffic
is most annoying. You can't even ping the computers on your
LAN without ZoneAlarm giving you a warning. Its logging
capabilities leaves much to be desired. As the program itself,
the logs will tell you which program did what. And it's a
little too much interested in what I'm doing on my LAN rather
than what I'm doing on the internet. My logfile has ONE entry
for Netscape, apparently doing a DNS lookup; it has over 100
entries for MS FrontPage connecting to my LAN web-server...
I'm also seeing a couple of entries for ZoneAlarm itself doing
some DNS look-ups ... wonder why that is.
A simple port scan test showed that the
program actually does something if probed, but only on the
Ultra paranoid setting. If you are desperate for some
protection and are unwilling to spend the money, you might
want to consider this product.
Oh, and the option to "Load ZoneAlarm on
startup" doesn't work... One thing I did like was the use
of non-standard colors. I don't like the colors, but seeing
something that is not gray is refreshing.